Last week, after much angsty carrying on, I had to face up to the fact that the trusty car that had seen me through 11 years and 155,000+ miles was finally at the end of its road—and after a tearful (really) farewell, I'm now the nervous owner of a brand-new car. Eep. Now, normal people would be very excited by this—lots of spiffy new gadgety things to marvel over, better gas mileage, smoother ride, new car smell and whatnot. I, however, was far more excited by the discovery of a HUGE Asian market right next door to the dealership.* Seriously, the announcement that all signs pointed to the discovery of water on Mars paled in comparison to the thrill I felt when I discovered this market. We're talking big market here. Major. Row upon row, case upon case of stuff I can't pronounce or even recognize but know I HAVE to have. Up til now, I've had very little made-by-loving-hands-at-home experience with the wide range of Asian cuisines (mostly Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai), mainly because I never had the right stuff at hand. Or a place to find the right stuff. (I'll hop the train to NYC at the drop of a hat for off-the-wall or ethnic foods that I can't find on Long Island, but for some reason, I've always been intimidated by Chinatown.) But no more! H&Y's got it all. And the list of things I want to make with my new-found bounty has grown exponentially.
These crackers, for instance—Senbei, Japanese rice crackers. Crackers, flatbreads and crisps are the theme for this month's #TwelveLoaves challenge, chosen by Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla, and I was all set to make my favorite vegetable crackers from Ivy Manning's Crackers & Dips (a must-have for all you cookbook collectors), when I spotted these beauties while paging through the book. Japanese crackers? That required the purchase of new stuff from my newly-discovered Asian grocery? Where I could drive in my new car? Okay!
Senbei are my kind of cracker—super thin, super crispy, super crunchy, super full of flavor. And like most crackers, because they're so small, they're super low in calorie so you can eat tons of them and never gain an ounce. (That's how it works with small stuff, right? RIGHT?) They're also super fun to make—not at all as fiddly as I feared. The dough is rather crumbly but when you press down firmly, it holds together quite well. And while you can certainly roll them out or press them with a flat-bottomed glass, a tortilla press—this is a very multi-ethnic cracker experience—is really key to getting them as thin as possible.
Of course, if you've got a cracker, you need something to put on it and edamame hummus was an obvious choice—keeping with the whole Japanese theme. I'm a huge fan of hummus and while I've made it with all sorts of things, edamame was something I'd never tried before. Honestly? It was one of my best hummuses (hummi?) ever. THAT good, with just enough wasabi for a nice kick without clearing your sinuses.
These crackers are definitely one to try. The furikake (Japanese seasoning) is probably the only thing you might not find in your local market but it's readily available online, so you don't even need a big Asian grocery or a new car to get the job done. Although the latter IS nice...
Don't forget to check out the links below to see what the other TwelveLoafers came up with for this month's cracker, flatbreads and crisps theme. And thanks, Camilla, for hosting!
*Don't get me wrong, it's not that having a new car isn't great—Like, what am I? Stupid?—but there's this pesky thing called PAYING FOR IT that kind of takes the edge off the celebration, dammit.
Senbei – Japanese Rice Crackers
- 3/4 teaspoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- pinch of salt (optional)
- 120g / 3/4 cup sweet rice flour (mochi)
- 40g / 1/3 cup cooked white rice (I used sushi rice)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral flavored oil
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons furikake seasoning
- Prep steps: Preheat your oven to 305°F, with a rack in the middle, and line two baking sheets with parchment. Take a quart-size plastic storage bag (freezer bags are best), cut off the zipper top and down both sides, leaving the bottom seam intact.
- For the glaze, in a small bowl, stir the soy sauce and mirin together, adding a pinch of salt to taste if you like. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the rice flour, cooked rice, sea salt, oil, and soy sauce and process until the mixture is finely ground.
- While the processor is running, slowly add the water and process until the dough is crumbly.
- Transfer to a large bowl, add in the furikake and knead the dough to incorporate. The dough will be somewhat oily and crumbly but holds together when pressed firmly.
- Sandwich a rounded teaspoon size dough ball in the plastic bag, then place in a tortilla press to flatten into a round. (Alternatively, you can use a rolling pin or flatten the dough using a flat-bottomed glass, but whatever method you use, you want to press the crackers as thin as possible.)
- Carefully peel the dough round off the plastic and place on the prepared backing sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bake the sheets one at a time for about 8 minutes. The crackers will look a bit dry around the edges. Carefully turn the crackers, then return to the oven for about another 8 minutes, until they're beginning to brown.
- Remove the crackers from the oven and cool for a few minutes, until you can handle them without burning your fingers. Brush each cracker with the soy-mirin glaze, then return to the oven for another 2–3 minutes. Watch them carefully so the glaze doesn't burn. When ready, the crackers will look shiny and feel dry to the touch.
- Cool the crackers on a wire rack (they get crispier as they cool). Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 40 crackers.
Bob's Red Mill's sweet rice flour is fairly easy to find and that's what I used here. Mochiko Blue Star Brand is a Japanese rice flour that should be available in most Asian stores. I have that also but used Bob's since it was already open. Waste not, want not. Or something like that.
You could certianly roll the crackers with a rolling pin or use a glass to flatten them, but the tortilla press is definitely the way to go if you've got one (and if you don't, it's a great excuse to buy one. GADGETS RULE!) It's fast, efficient and really gets the dough rounds as thin as they can go. I pressed each one about three times, rotating the plastic each time.
I weighed out each bit of dough rather than use a teaspoon—I'm a scale nerd. Each bit was between 7–8 grams (total weight of the dough/40).
The time for setting the glaze is approximate. I baked the first batch for 3 minutes, but the glaze was still somewhat tacky and the crackers stuck together a bit when stacked. I baked the second batch a bit longer—probably just under 4 minutes total—kept an eye on things so they didn't burn, and the glaze was shiny and dry with no sticking. I ended up popping the first batch back in so they dried out as well.
Adapted from Crackers & Dips: More Than 50 Handmade Snacks by Ivy Manning
- 1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (fresh or frozen–if frozen thaw completely)
- 3-4 tbsp. tahini
- 2–3 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. canola or other neutral flavored oil
- 1/2–1 tsp wasabi paste (not powder) or to taste
- pinch of salt or to taste
- Water or additional lemon juice as needed to thin
- Place the edamame in the your food processor and pulse until somewhat smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add water or additional lemon juice as needed to achieve your preferred consistency.
- Adjust the wasabi and salt to taste.
I think hummus is one of those things where a recipe is really just a jumping off point. I've given basic ingredients here but feel free to wing it to suit your taste. If you want to get knocked off your chair by the wasabi, bring it on! Love the lemon? Add more. Like a more rustic hummus? Super smooth? It's up to you. Just taste as you go and check the consistency so you don't go past the point of no return.
Our host this month is Camilla from Culinary Aventures with Camilla, and our theme is Crackers, Crisps, and Flatbreads. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month's mouthwatering selection of #TwelveLoaves enter last month's #TwelveLoaves Seeded Breads!
- Cheddar Cheese Crackers from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Lemon Oregano Pita Bread from Kudos Kitchen By Renee
- Pane Carasau from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Parmesan-Thyme Cream Crackers from A Baker's House
- Piadina (Italian Flat Bread) from Cake Duchess
- Pretzel Crackers from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Quick Raspberry Flatbread from Cheap Ethnic Eatz
- Rye Crispbread from The Bread She Bakes
- Senbei - Japanese Rice Crackers from A Shaggy Dough Story
- Three Seed Crackers from Hostess At Heart
- Thyme and Black Pepper Crackers from blackberry eating in late september
If you'd like to bake along with us this month, share your Crackers, Crisps, and Flatbreads using hashtag #TwelveLoaves!